Breathe in Mindfulness
What comes to mind when you hear the word “mindfulness?” I’ve heard some describe mindfulness as rooted in eastern religions, where you sit “criss-cross, apple sauce” with your eyes closed, repeating a mantra or “ooommm” emptying your mind and inviting “the universe” to speak to you.
That’s way too “airy fairy” for me.
That’s why I was motivated when I recently heard a fantastic interview with Dr. Charles Stone. In my opinion he nailed it! He captured the practice of mindfulness exactly the way I think of it. In the interview he defined mindfulness this way: “The art of holy noticing - noticing with a holy purpose –God, His handiwork, our relationships, and our inner world of thoughts and feelings.”
Mindfulness is not an emptying of your mind but is the practice of becoming more aware of what’s going on in your mind and in your life. Mindfulness is actually a discipline that can change the way you experience your life. It’s stopping the incessant chatter in your mind, mentally and physically pausing so you can be fully present in the moments of your life each day.
Dr. Stone’s book Holy Noticing will be released in a few months, and I can’t wait to add it to my library! He presents a great study of “mindfulness” in the Scriptures, but mentions specifically the Hebrew word “zacar,” which is translated: to remember, recall, to be thought of, to call to mind. Being mindful brings together the two concepts of “being” and “doing” – meaning that you don’t just stop once a day and “do” mindfulness, rather it’s something that becomes part of who you are as you go through your day – being more connected and present – no matter what you are doing. Dr. Stone presents his simple guide to help us develop the discipline of mindfulness. It’s simple and easy to remember – but I promise that you will experience profound peace by adopting this practice in your life. In the interview, he first presented the last letter of the word “breathe” as the way to start the practice: “E for “Engage” – engagement of our mind in all we do. Here is my summary of his guide to “B-R-E-A-T-H-E”:
B – Body – Paying attention to our physical state and sensations. Do a scan through our bodies to become aware of where tension may be and consciously allow ourselves to relax, breathing deeply in and out. Take this time to thank God for different aspects of how he so wonderfully created us!
R – Relationships – How we are doing in our close and distant relationships. Do a reflection on each of these important relationships and how we can be intentional about making important emotional deposits into those “relationship accounts.”
E – Environment – Noticing our current surroundings, particularly the beautiful creation. Wherever we are, slow down and listen to the sounds, observe the sights, smell the smells and notice other details of the environment. For example, even when we are waiting in line, noticing and taking in the details of the environment in a positive way helps us to be “grounded.” Simply slowing down and being aware. A – Affective (emotional) Awareness – Being aware of our current feelings and emotions; Ask ourselves what emotions are present, identify them, how are they coloring our mindset and outlook. Choose how to respond or perhaps think differently about our emotions.
T – Thoughts – Paying attention to what we’re currently thinking about; Realize that we have control of our thoughts; identify areas where we may tend to go “negative” and make a choice to direct our thoughts in a more edifying way.
H – Heart – The state of our spiritual life, connecting to God. For me it’s about prayerfully connecting to the God of the Bible and the Holy Spirit; for others it is being intentional about the practices for their own spiritual tradition.
E – Engage – This mindfulness is something we bring into all areas of our life through each day. Use B-R-E-A-T-H-E throughout our day – our work and our play. Engage our mind to engage our world!
How can you integrate this model for mindfulness this week? I’d love to hear from you about the impact this practice has for you – and others!